Newswise — LOS ANGELES (Feb. 25, 2019) -- A pilot program underway in more than 100 patient rooms at Cedars-Sinai is allowing patients to use an Alexa-powered platform known as Aiva to interact hands-free with nurses and control their entertainment. Aiva is the world's first patient-centered voice assistant platform for hospitals.
In the pilot project, patient rooms are equipped with Amazon Echos and patients simply tell the device what they need. For example, patients can turn their TV off and on and change channels by giving verbal commands like, "Alexa, change the channel to ESPN." A patient who needs assistance getting out of bed might say, "Alexa, tell my nurse I need to get up to use the restroom."
The patient's request is routed to the mobile phone of the appropriate caregiver, whether a nurse, clinical partner, manager or administrator. A pain medicine request would be routed to a registered nurse, for example, while a bathroom request would be routed to a clinical partner. If the request is not answered in a timely manner, the Aiva platform sends it up the chain of command.
"Whereas previously nurses were frequently asked to help with the in-room television, Alexa does that job for us, allowing nurses to focus on providing the highest level of patient care," said Golda Morales, assistant nurse manager of General Surgery.
In addition to interaction with the patient's healthcare team, the devices at Cedars-Sinai include standard Alexa features, allowing patients to feel more connected to the outside world. Currently, the most common request is for the device to play music, followed by content like weather, sports and games.
Abdominal surgery patient Adrienne Edwards was one of the early users of Alexa. "It rocks," Edwards said. "I was lonely in the hospital and I said, 'Alexa, would you be my friend?' The device responded, 'Of course we could be friends. You seem very nice.'"
Peachy Hain, Cedars-Sinai's executive director of Medical and Surgical Services, was one of the driving forces behind bringing Alexa to patient rooms.
"Patients young and old are now used to voice-activated devices in their homes. Since it's familiar to them, it helps enhance their hospital experience," said Hain. "In the hospital, patients have little to distract them from pain or loneliness."
Cedars-Sinai and Aiva are moving patient interaction into the 21st century, when hospital rooms will need more intelligence and convenience to accommodate changing patient needs.
"Smart rooms are all about improving satisfaction for both patients and nurses," said Sumeet Bhatia, founder and CEO of Aiva. "Cedars-Sinai and Aiva are giving patients more entertainment options, more control over their environment and closer communication with their care team."
The Alexa program joins innovations such as the MyChart Bedside app and Cedars-Sinai's iPad project in modernizing patient communications at Cedars-Sinai. More than 250 tablets equipped with the MyChart bedside app are now available for hospitalized patients, who can use the app to check their medical record information, including lab results, as well as the names and photos of their care team.
Aiva participated in the Cedars -Sinai Accelerator in 2017, where the product was further developed and tested. Cedars-Sinai, through the Accelerator, was one of the company's first investors. Aiva has since received funding from the Google Assistant Investment Program and Amazon's Alexa Fund. Aiva also works with other voice assistants, such as Google Home. In addition to its use in hospitals, the Aiva platform also can be used at home and in senior living communities.
Read more on the Cedars-Sinai Blog: Demo Day Highlights Healthcare Innovation